SSOT Spotter Scopes to Replace USMC’s M49s
Small business qualifier Horus Vision LLC in San Bruno, CA received a not-to-exceed $49 million, 5-year firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Scout Sniper Observation Telescopes (SSOT). The SSOT is a lightweight variable power telescope that will replace the M49 Sniper 20x power fixed telescope throughout the United States Marine Corps, which has been in use since World War 2 and remains in service with a number of countries around the world.
Snipers are not loners; as shown above, they always work in pairs. One team member serves as the spotter to help identify difficult to find targets at long range, and adjust the marksman’s fire as necessary. The SSOT is intended for those spotters, and is part of a larger set of marksman-class optics buys by the USMC. High-quality optics, in the hands of trained riflemen, are proving to be extremely useful against opponents who regularly use human shields and commit related war crimes. As such, a broader trend within the Corps is the shift toward universal fielding of combat optics, rather than restricting these tools to snipers and designated marksmen.
With respect to the chosen spotter systems, note that the specifications advertised on Horus Vision’s web site do not correspond to the USMC’s purchased systems, which will use less-advanced MilDot crosshairs. See below for the explanation…
Horus Vision’s System
Horus Vision uses its own reticles, attached to a Leupold Spotting Scope and calibrated. The resulting scope weighs just over 1 kg (37 ounces), and is 12.4 inches long.
Horus Vision’s proprietary spotting system is grid based, eliminating some of the guesswork inherent in a “crosshairs and mildots” system as the spotter or marksman works to adjust for range and wind. Sizing and ranging are not affected by changes in magnification, because the first focal plane reticle expands and shrinks the reticle to match the image being observed. A better understanding of their grid system and how it works can be gained from trying their web site’s Flash interactive demos.
For the USMC, however, the SSOT scopes will use the standard crosshairs and MilDots approach. In order to be effective as a team, their spotters’ must use the same system as their marksmens’ current rifle scopes.
The SSOT contract does not include the rest of HorusVision’s “System 5” set, which also includes a WinCE-based ballistic computing system, scopes with Horus Vision’s improved grid system reticle, and calibration aids. Horus Vision has announced separate programs for its ballistic computer and ATrag software, however, involving the US Army’s sniper teams, and the US Marine Corps.
An optional adapter that was not purchased under SSOT would allow digital cameras to be attached to Horus Vision’s spotter scope. At first glance, that may seem like a trivial addition. With the right systems behind it, however, it could become a sniper teams’ biggest future force multiplier. It’s worth contemplating the counterinsurgency value of snipers in observer roles, with the ability to take long-range digital photos, send them back over secure networks, and have biometric systems use face-matching and related algorithms to turn those pictures into near-real-time identification and intelligence.
Contracts and Delivery Orders
The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA manages these contracts.
Feb 13/09: The Pentagon announces small business qualifier Horus Vision LLC’s $49 million, 5-year firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Scout Sniper Observation Telescopes (SSOT). This contract involves a minimum buy of 100 SSOT systems within the first year, followed by variable orders as the service decides.
Work will be performed in San Bruno, CA, and is expected to be completed by five years from date of contract award. Contract funds in the amount of $7.8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with proposals solicited via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with 5 offers received (M67854-09-D-1016).